Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sometimes One Mah Jongg Set is Not Enough...

When you love Mah Jongg as much as we do, the set you play with is important.
Barbara plays on her mother's set.  It's a good feeling to handle the same tiles your mom did so many years ago.

I didn't grow up in a family that played MJ, so when I began to play I bought a new set.  It's a lovely set, but it has no history!

 I played with it for a few years but I longed for a set that was old and beautiful.  I started looking at auctions, flea markets and on eBay and finally found this on eBay.

 The auction had many photographs that showed ALL of the set.  All of the tiles both front and back.  It's important that all are the same color and belong to the same set.
This one had a tag that marked it a Royal Depth Control set from A & L Mfg. Co. in NY.

But what sold me on the set were the jokers.  First of all there were 8.  Many older sets have only 6 jokers or less.  (It wasn't until 1971 that the NMJL began using 8 jokers and 8 flowers) 
I don't know why this has 8...unless someone got them from another identical set.  But they are beautiful!

The flowers and dragons are also lovely and the tiles are all full of color and very smooth to the touch.

There are five racks with betting chips.  Also a sign of an older set.  New sets only have 4 racks.

And, of course the instruction booklet, dice and a bakelite bettor!
This is my set of choice when I play!'s something else about avid Mah Jongg players...sometimes we collect sets.
The tiles that we photographed for our header at the top of the page are part of a set that my daughter's boyfriend bought at an auction for me.  It has no jokers but the tiles are beautiful.  There are 16 flower/worker enough to make 8 jokers and have a set that can be used for play.  I have some joker stickers on order and am finally ready to restore it.
What good is an antique set if you don't use it!



  1. Oh Susan, Please don't give me a heart attack!

    The set on the header is a very rare early Cowan set, and with all 16 flowers intact it is worth close to $800. If you sticker them, it slashes the value to about half! I restore antique Mahj sets and also match orphan tiles for jokers professionally. I'm also one of the largest Mahj set collectors in the world (over 400 sets) and buy and sell about 10 antique sets a month. I want to suggest that you have me try to find orphan tiles to add to the set. Although it costs a bit to do it, you preserve the value of this rare set. I sold a similar one, but with a green back recently for 1200. I would have been lucky to get 600 without the 16 original flowers. Putting a sticker discolors the tile and destroys it.

    As for your set your posting, very nice! Your correct with the maker but your year is a bit off. The Mah Jongg League first began using 8 jokers (and 6 flowers) in 1968 so it dates your set after that time, and your correct 8 & 8 in 71. The booklet your showing was added and earlier than the set. All those jokers are original, not matched from another set. It also would have had at least 16 flower tiles originally. Two runs of 1-4 of flowers in urns (the leftmost 1&4 in your photo), one set of 1-4 of flower blossoms (#1&2 showing in your photo) and one set of 1-4 in trades (none showing). Nice score!

    Now back away from the stickers and let me help your out with that Cowan beauty!

    1. Johni,

      Email me privately at
      We'll talk
      I'm thrilled to find someone who knows about old sets.


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